Walton Family Foundation To Fund Arkansas Charter Schools

Jan 8, 2016

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Walton Family Foundation says it will be reviewing funding request from charter schools in Arkansas following the announcement of a billion dollar gift to be spent in about 22 states over five years.

Marc Sternberg, head of education policy at the foundation, said the strength of school leadership will weigh heavily in picking schools to fund in 2016.

"We'll be overwhelming focused on growing the charter sector," he said, "because that's where the opportunity is to increase high-quality, autonomous schools of choice." 

Cathy Koehler, president of the Arkansas Education Association, said she thinks the foundation’s focus on charter schools is misguided.  She believes the money could be better spent on public schools, because their practices are supported by research. 

“What they really need is a full time nurse in every school, a full-time social worker in our schools of greatest need. We need an increase in arts and music education," she said. 

The foundation gave gifts to six charter schools in Arkansas last year.